Blue Highways - Singles

by JKutchma & The Five Fifths

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about

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1735-1820

When Daniel Boone goes by, at night,
The phantom deer arise
And all lost, wild America
Is burning in their eyes

Stephen Vincent Benét
1933

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Great road records take us with them, conjuring not just the places they go, but the headspace those places evoke. And the very best road records take us on the inner journey that led the author to pack their bags in the first place. Like hitchhikers, we ride shotgun as the musician undergoes whatever personal changes road trips engender that make them such transformative — and familiar — American rites of passage.

-John Schacht
Right At Home On the Great Divide

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On April 14th, 2014, the night of a total lunar eclipse, the nine members of JKutchma & The Five Fifths loaded their gear into a massive former textile mill located in downtown Durham, North Carolina. Aside from some minor instrumentation and vocal work they recorded Blue Highways in a very intense twelve-hour session, one that started just before dusk and ended right before dawn.

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On the old highway maps of America, the main routes were red and the back roads blue. Now even the colors are changing. But in those brevities just before dawn and a little after dusk – times neither day or night – the old roads return to the sky some of its color. Then, in truth, they carry a mysterious cast of blue, and it’s that time when the pull of the blue highway is strongest, when the open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.

William Least Heat Moon
Blue Highways: A Journey Into America
1982

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This is an album for a road trip that starts when that weird crepuscular blue starts creeping in, just before the sun’s rise or set. For some journeys, the destination and routing may not be known though the desire to go is. Road trips are not vacations. We can't rewind or fast forward to our favorite parts of a road trip. They can't be paused or stopped. It must all be taken in its singular entirety. For this reason, Blue Highways is intended to be listened to as one continuous nine-song singular 40 minute track, available here:

jkutchma.bandcamp.com/album/blue-highways-the-album

The 40-minute film accompanying this album is available for streaming or download here:

www.jkutchma.com/bluehighways/film

(password: keepthisasecret)

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Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.

John Steinbeck
Travels With Charley: In Search of America
1962

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Blue Highways was recorded almost entirely over the course of one night in April, 2014. We did some vocal overdubs and some percussion parts a few weeks later, but the vast majority of the record happened that night. Nine of us loaded our gear into the second floor of an old textile mill, a cavernous 200,000 square foot open space, and set up in a circle. Nick loaded in his recording gear, put up mics, and did his best to minimize bleed, but it would be mostly on us to not step on each other’s toes. No lights, no running water, just some drop cords and a couple floor lamps. The sun set around 7:30pm and we just started playing the songs. If something felt off, if someone missed something, we played it again. We finished up around 5:30 or 6:00am, with just a vague light creeping into the sky to the east, birds already a riot as we descended the shaky fire escape. It felt, for all the world, like we’d started somewhere and ended up somewhere else. -EKR

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Nowhere is that blue tapped into more than on the suite’s final cut, “Neighbors,” which reads as the most autobiographical song. Sung over plangent piano chords and with tremendous emotion and soul, Kutchma delivers the line “All of my neighbors know who I am/Cause I’m the one screaming at midnight/’I think I can’” with so much conviction the song reads like a confessional. To add to the sense of late-night desperation, Kutchma ends the song mid-verse with an abruptness so jarring that it initially seems unintentional. Not so, he says —that’s just the witching hour, the time to get gone.

-John Schacht
Right At Home On the Great Divide
Blurt Magazine

blurtonline.com/feature/right-at-home-on-the-great-divide-jkutchma/

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“That was in Crescent City, California, up near the Oregon border. I left soon after. But today I was thinking of that place, Crescent City, and my attempt at a new life there with my wife, and how even then, in the chair that morning, I had made up my mind to leave and not look back. I recalled the calm I felt when I closed my eyes and let the fingers move through my hair, the sadness in those fingers, the hair already starting to grow again.”

Raymond Carver
‘The Calm’
1981

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credits

released August 20, 2016

Andrew Blass: piano, vocals
Kaitlin Grady: cello, vocals
George Hage: organ, vocals
Jason Kutchma: vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano
Steve Oliva: slide guitar, vocals
Matt Oliverio: electric guitar
Evan Rowe: drums, percussion, vocals
Tom Rau: bass
Jon Truesdale: acoustic guitar, vocals

Produced by Jason Kutchma
All songs by Jason Kutchma

Lyrics of ‘Blue Highways’ by Jason Kutchma, excerpt from Blue Highways, a novel by William Least-Heat Moon

Engineered, mixed and mastered by Nick Petersen
Recorded from dusk till dawn on April 14, 2014 at Hollow Mountain in Durham, NC

Album cover by Steve Oliva at Kitchen Island Show Print
kitchenislandshowprint.com

tags

license

all rights reserved
Track Name: Pomp & Circumstance Gets Me Down
Take your books off of your shelf and say a little prayer to yourself
Grab your coat and grab your gown and follow your dreams down
Down the stairs and to the gate, hurry up don’t make them wait
A back pat, a handshake, hurry up they’re all watching you

One more hug, one last embrace, one to leave, one more to take
Here it was now here it’s gone, came the day to take back the dawn
And he did without a fight, without the help of a restless night
Like you, you may return but you will never be back

Back at home, nothing was as loud
As when Pomp & Circumstance got you down

Fold the box top with the clothes, write ‘Attic’ then tape it closed
A locket? Hold it near then cry the kind only you will ever hear
Here’s the last of it I’d say, no one’s ‘round so let it out, okay?
Let it get to when it’s where, if they were you wouldn’t even care

A back tap as trumpets they start to sound
But don’t let Pomp & Circumstance get you down
Don’t let it get you down
Don’t let it get you down

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Track Name: Durham Bull
I used to be a fighter in the grandeur of Spain
Then I toiled up in Wall Street got all the glory and all the blame
I was a leading man when I got a call from Hollywood
My looks intimidating
Notorious, misunderstood
I’m haunted by my best match
The Great Padroni from Portugal
One went home a hero
The other not home at all
I don’t know where I’m going I don’t like where I’ve been
What am I becoming and who the hell am I again?

Now here in Carolina I’m so tired of this weight
I fear I lost my instinct
Forgotten everything I was trained
I got the strength of thousands
I’m a legend but I got to wait patiently
You know that I can move mountains
But I got a feeling I’m not yet what I’m meant to be
I’m not yet what I’m meant to be
No not yet what I’m meant to be
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Track Name: Far Rockaway
Rhyme the way it doesn't anymore
Let their prayers go silent and let them see what's in store
Every future's got a past
No childhood ever lasts
I'm an interpreter of dreams

When the tree stops blowing, let it go
For what the wind has carried is now so far down the road
They're gone, friends of mine,
But not their songs or their rhymes
All, interpreters of dreams

Write the same old songs over again
They're the same path in the forest, the same tree fallen
When it fell, did it make a sound?
I can't tell but they all do now
All of them dreams

I'm early to wake but late to rise
What is it you thought you'd see when you closed your eyes?
As before and before last
No fortune teller tells the past
I'm an interpreter of dreams

So if my branch is bending don't let go
Hold on for the season and then I'll call to let you know
I'm getting better or I know it will
I'll still be writing my poems on the back of water bills
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Track Name: Young & Wild & Lost
I got so many reservations
But one day in April, I’m gonna be just fine
I know nothing’s ever simple
But one day in April, me and a double yellow line
As simple as it gets, forget the bills forget the rent
Gotta mixtape in my head
I said I’m my own radio

I was less than nothing that day in March
But you were oh so long ago
A month full of Mondays
Not one weekend, not one Saturday night
Though I can’t turn back time
That don’t mean I’m not gonna try in vain
Lost and wild with a burning in my eyes

I got a burning in my eyes
There’s such a burning in my eyes

Though I can’t turn back time
That don’t mean I’m not gonna try in vain
Lost and wild, with a burning in my eyes
But no more reservations
Cause today, in April, I’m gonna be just fine
Though nothing’s ever simple
Today, in April, me and that double yellow line
As simple as it gets
Forget the bills forget the rent

I’m feeling
Young and
Wild and
Lost in America
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Track Name: Come On By
I was pardoned down in FLA Orlando
Just some misunderstanding at the mall
In the springtime Mobile, Alabama
Then I headed to Whatcom County when came fall
I remember the last time she said she loved me
She was all alone and desperate when she said
Please don’t tell my brother or my family
Let’s just keep this between us, friends till the end
Come on by when the rain stops falling down
Call me, call me

I was way too broke to ever go and see her
And that last memory of her, boy, too much too bear
Standing by that neon Laundro-Matic
That sigh and that look and her shivering in night air
It all seems rigged like we’re not going to make it
Together or alone
You tell me what chance do I got me now bub,
Of walking out with every sock, every stitch of these clothes?
Come on by when the rain stops falling down
Call me, call me

I got busy tending to that garden
The court appointed so-and-so calls my head
Over another big dumb misunderstanding
Am I sorry for what I did or what I can’t take back?
She came in on the late bus from Sausalito
Someone was banging on her stall
You come with us or we’ll have to break this door down
Then she flushed what she could and made a call
Come on by when the rain stops falling down
Call me, call me
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Track Name: Bus Station in Montana
I feel right at home on the Great Divide
For maybe the first time of my life
That County Road’s a country wide
Split down the middle by a dotted white line
That I’ve signed and signed with a silent pen
I’ll never stop just begin again
So come on baby are you good to go?
Almost almost has never been so close

I been waiting for you to say to me
I wasn’t sure now I’m sure ready
But those coming clouds painted on our bus…
Yeah but our going clouds are gone forever
Up and over in that purple sky
It could be a sunset or maybe sunrise
Are we there Mama? Do now you know?
Almost almost has never been so close

She grabbed her lover rather grabbed her coat
Instead of saying goodbye she said I got to go
Tell me babe do you love me?
Tell me babe just go on and say it
And in that moment all was broken
Though nothing said, everything spoken
Spoken, like a hearse going slow
Almost almost has never been so close
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Track Name: June the Waitress
The smile, the gold tooth
Her worn black shoes
Got a rose tattoo on her breast
She’s saying boys come on in
It’s been too long, where you been?
And she’s winking
I’ve been lonely

You want your apple pie?
You still my steak and eggs guy?
Over easy I think
And rare?
Gotta ask cause you never know
It’s just like them nature shows
Where everything changes

It’s now 2:10 and the drunks are coming in
My arthritis is acting up, must be a storm coming
At the end of the night I saw her counting her dimes
She was whispering
Ronnie needs braces
She sighed braces
Shook her head when she said braces
My baby needs braces
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Track Name: Blue Highways
Just before dawn and a little after dusk, when it’s not day or night,
The old roads return to the sky some color
Nothing at home remains
I got nothing to lose but the chains
I feel the pull of the blue, the midnight dew,
The scythe of a moon cutting
Go on now stick out your neck
When you come back you’ll come correct
You’ll know all you need to know
Like nothing’s ever known
All this will hit me from Nameless, Tennessee
From blue highways

Some strangers’ve been like neighbors
Then I think of home where my neighbors are unknown
I guess I too am so unknown
Some monks along the way told me how they pray
Through hymns or quiet, songs of silence, I say amen boys
Go on now stick out your neck
When you come back you’ll come correct
You’ll know all you need to know
Like nothing’s ever known
And all this will hit me from Whynot, Mississippi
From blue highways

Once upon a time I promised myself that I would be the only one
to ever define my life but as I age I sure let that slip away and I don’t
know who to blame anymore

Go on now stick out your neck
When you come back you’ll come correct
You’ll know all you need to know
Like nothing’s ever known
And if you’re somewhere
That looks like anywhere
Then you’re nowhere
On blue highways
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Track Name: Neighbors
All of my neighbors know who I am
Cause I’m the one screaming at midnight
I think I can
I don’t know it true
I don’t believe it a lie
Over and over I know they know
Damned am I

Hey there neighbor
I remember this friend
Feeling young and wild and lost
Like it’d never end
But it always ends
Then I remember alright
All the ways I surrendered my days
To take back those few nights

Hard heartaches
Hard heartaches
This is getting too hard

Hey neighbor
I’ve made up my mind
I do believe I’m leaving
For good this time
When day is not day
And night not quite night
When all I know
Maybe all I'll ever know
Is what I'm leaving behind
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